Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Until now it has been a commonly held view that numbers are represented abstractly in the human brain. However, a recent imaging study challenged the existence of an abstract representation at least of digits and number words, at the brain level, and argued that previous studies and paradigms were not sensitive enough to detect deviations from abstract representation at the behavioural level. The current study addressed this issue with an analysis of distance and sequential effects in magnitude classification. Previous studies that used this paradigm did not find deviation from abstract representation for digits and number words (e.g., Dehaene, 1996; Schwarz & Ischebeck, 2000). However, in the current study a short stimulus-response interval was used, which reduced subjective expectancy and increased automatic processing. The current results showed deviation from abstract representation in both reaction time and accuracy and therefore support the idea that nonabstract representations of numbers do exist.

Original publication




Journal article


Q J Exp Psychol (Hove)

Publication Date





1160 - 1168


Adult, Cognition, Distance Perception, Female, Humans, Male, Mathematics, Reaction Time